June 22, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit – Jacob Stringer

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

By Jacob Stringer

Matthew 7:15-20—“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Jesus is speaking here about false teachers, but His words here apply to everyone. Our actions reflect the character of our hearts. Just like the fact that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit, those truly living a life for Jesus Christ will reflect that lifestyle through the way they act, the way they talk, their interpersonal relationships, and their attitudes. In the same way, those who do not know Christ will have patterns of sin in their lives.

Galatians 5:19-25—“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Since we profess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and claim to be His followers, why then do we so often fall into sin? We cannot say that we are good trees when we bear bad fruit. Not one of us is perfect. On the contrary, according to Romans 3:10, there is not even one person who is righteous! How then can we be saved from being cut down and thrown into the fire?

1 Peter 3:21-22—“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

Jesus’ death and resurrection conquered sin and death once and for all. His willing sacrifice has the power to save us from our sins and gives us the hope of a glorious and eternal life with Him in Heaven. We respond to His invitation through baptism, which is not a work of man, but is the commandment of God. Thanks to this avenue of salvation, we who are unworthy have a choice to make: what kinds of fruits will we bear? Let us strive to produce good fruit for the Lord, knowing that in so doing we are living according to the pattern established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

 

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June 15, 2014

The Way, The Truth, and the Life – Jacob Stringer

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

John 14:6—“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

People these days like the pantheistic world view, meaning that everyone creates their own version of the Divine and controls their own destiny. Sure, it is a nice thought to imagine a world where everyone is right, and everyone is going to Heaven no matter what they believe or how they act. But that world is not the kind of world that we live in. A world without absolute truth is a world without justice. If our world view controlled our spiritual destiny, there would be no consequence for sin and no reward for righteousness. If we know that there must be absolute truth, then that means not everyone can be right.

Jesus makes some very bold claims about who He is. He claimed to be the Son of God Himself, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. He backed up these claims with signs and miracles, and used these to establish His divine authority. The priests and Pharisees who opposed His teaching delivered Him to be crucified, fulfilling the prophecies of passages such as Psalm 22 and Zechariah 12. Finally, through His resurrection on the third day, He ultimately defeated sin and death and proved once and for all that He is the Son of God.

Galatians 1:8—“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

We are assured by the apostle Paul that there is no other way than through Jesus. Many false prophets have come forward, such as Mohammed and Joseph Smith, just as the New Testament writers foretold. However, we know based on the warnings given by Jesus and His followers that the only true way to salvation is through the blood of our slain Savior, who willingly gave up His perfect life to save us from our sins.

Ephesians 4:4-6—“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all.”

The idea that all roads lead to Heaven is one that is completely false. Only one road leads to Heaven, and that is the road that Jesus walked to Calvary. Let us all in turn deny ourselves and daily take up our crosses, following the pattern that Jesus set for us. This is the only true way, and the only way that can save us from our sins.

 

 

June 8, 2014

Leaven of the Pharisees/Leaven of the Church – Jacob Stringer

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

In Mark chapters 6 and 8, we see Jesus performing the same miracle twice: feeding crowds of thousands with just a miniscule amount of food to start with. There were many other things which Jesus did in His lifetime that were miraculous, but these occasions stand out to many as some of His most amazing feats. Can you imagine being one of the five thousand in chapter 6, being hungry and having no idea what you are going to eat, when all of the sudden Jesus takes five loaves and two fish and starts passing it out for everyone to share? It must have been quite strange for many of those who were there. One can only imagine how some probably where upset or disappointed upon seeing this, thinking that there wouldn’t be enough to provide for everyone. But we know, as the story goes that everyone was filled and twelve baskets were taken up of the leftovers. What a spectacular event to witness! However, this event didn’t seem to stick in the minds of the apostles in chapter 8 when they were eating on the way to Bethsaida, and Jesus told them “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” They thought He was meaning that they didn’t have enough to eat. Jesus responded critically to this in verse 18 when He said, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” The apostles, as they often did, missed the point completely. Not only did they take for granted the signs that Jesus performed, but they misunderstood the meaning of “the leaven of the Pharisees,” which as we see in Matthew 16:12 referred to their hypocrisy. Many times we as Christians can miss the big picture as well, when we fall into petty sins and forget about the most significant event of all, Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Jesus’ blood was provided to save us from sin, not to give us license to live as we please. So I pose this question: What is the leaven of your life? Let us be careful to avoid sins which can permeate our minds. Sin can infiltrate us by the things and people we associate with. 1 Corinthians 5:6 says, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” Flirting with sin is never safe. Hypocrisy was the leaven of the Pharisees. Let’s make our leaven be love and godliness. Hebrews 10:24-25 reads, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Let’s have this attitude in our hearts and strive to spread our hope to others as we walk with the Lord.

 

June 1, 2014

Gift of the Holy Spirit – Jacob Stringer

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Acts 2:38 – “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

This is a passage that I have grown up hearing my whole life, and I’m sure most people raised in the church have heard over and over again as well. Usually, we use it to point to the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins. However, we often overlook the last half of the verse, “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” What is the gift of the Holy Spirit as it applies to us today?

Ezekiel 36:24-27 – “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.”

Joel 2:28-32 – “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls.”

Both of these Old Testament passages seem to point to the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, where Jews from all across the world came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, and when the apostles, lead by Peter and through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, converted 3,000 of them to Christianity. We know that the 1st Century Christians could receive “gifts” from the Holy Spirit, including prophecy, speaking in tongues, and healing through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. However, with the death of the apostles came the end of the bestowment of these abilities. How then can we apply the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” to ourselves today?

Ephesians 4:20-32 – “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of god, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

The gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive today is a change of heart that we experience when we put on Christ. This is not an indwelling of the Holy Spirit where our thoughts and actions are controlled, but a knowledge of what is right and having a Christ-like attitude and conscience which motivates us to do the Lord’s will. May God be praised for this awesome gift, and most especially for the gift of His Son that gives us hope of eternal life.